Chris Dodd Cleared on Ethics Complaint

Chris Dodd has been cleared of ethics violations by the Senate ethics committee but he was chastised for not doing enough to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The Hartford Courant reports:

The Senate ethics committee today dismissed a complaint against U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd after determining that he and his wife, Jackie, did not violate ethics rules when refinancing their home mortgages in 2003.

However, in a letter to Dodd, committee members chided the Democratic senator for not doing enough to avoid the appearance that he was receiving special treatment.

For more than a year, Dodd has been hobbled by allegations that he benefited from improper VIP treatment when now defunct mortgage giant Countrywide Financial gave him and his wife $781,000 in loans on homes in Washington and East Haddam. Dodd repeatedly denied that he received favorable treatment.

“I’m pleased and gratified that the Democrats and Republicans on the ethics committee have dismissed this complaint and found that the underlying accusations simply were not credible,” Dodd said in a statement. “I’ve said all along that I welcomed a close examination of my mortgages, and I’ve also said all along that Jackie and I received the same mortgages that anyone else could have received.”

The committee spent more than a year investigating the charges, outlined in a July 2008 complaint by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington. The group cited allegations first made in Portofolio magazine.

“[T]he committee does believe that you should have exercised more vigilance in your dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that you were receiving preferential treatment based on your status as a senator,” states the letter, which was signed by committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and other members.

The committee also cleared U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, saying there was also “no substantial credible evidence” that he broke Senate ethics rules.

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    This was one of those things that is best described as ‘legitimate but stupid.’ Countrywide had a VIP program for prominent customers whose income, public standing, or both gave the lender some reason to think they were ‘good risks.’ Several celebrities and high-powered business types received the same kinds of deals. Like it or not, there is certainly a legitimate argument to be made that prominent people may be ‘better risks’ than others. That’s part of the way credit works, like it or hate it.
    However, the political figures who involved themselves in such a program were playing with fire. It may have seemed entirely harmless and legitimate at the time, but it’s impossible not to squint at it when the economy collapses largely because of the mortgage industry soon after. It may not be an ethics violation, but it shows a like of political judgment that may be an argument in favor of Connecticut Democrats voting for someone else in their primary.
    North Dakota Democrats should vote for someone else in their primary for the simple reason that Conrad is basically a Republican, but that’s just me being snarky. 😉

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